Picture it: Tall, sexy, legs up to her neck, an apple bottom that swings a bit too sexily when she walks in her designer jeans. Twenty-three-year-old American girl with a big mane of blonde hair, and she has a swagger, like she knows that everybody is always looking at her. She’s right. They are.
On our first date, two other guys try hitting on her when I go to the bathroom. I can’t blame them.
Second date, we bang for close to three hours. She’s on the pill and we go bareback and she’s incredible. After, I pass out and she cooks me fresh pasta. This can’t be real. She’s hot and she bangs like a minx and she cooks for her man.
But she’s blonde, and I like brunettes. Still, who am I to complain about this gift that has fallen into my lap.
I find out that she’s funny too, which is rare in a woman. She literally makes me laugh out loud—hard. How many women you know can make you do that? Today, I understand the humor was just a mask for her aggressive nature. But I didn’t know that then.
She works part-time near my apartment. Couple times a week, at lunchtime, she comes over for food and sex, in whatever order. One day, she says that we ought to be exclusive. I quickly agree. In my mind, it’s never going to get better than this. I’m happy. She’s happy. After almost a decade of dating—I’m thirty—the world feels reborn.
After a month, she goes home to visit her mother and father. I’m going to marry this guy, she tells them. I find this out years later.
We become inseparable. She’s a highly emotional person, reactive, full of laughter. This is not my usual cup of tea, but for some reason—that starts with ‘p’ and ends in ‘y’—I decide to strap myself to this rocket and see how far it goes. I’m entranced by her personality, her body, everything.
Halloween comes. I dress as Hugh Hefner, she’s a Playboy bunny. Bustier, fishnets, heels, pink ears. Out on the streets that night, we draw a thousand stares. Aw, who am I kidding—they were all looking at her.
We buy tickets for a journey to South America. Two weeks, no tour guide, just us and our combined weak-ass Spanish. We barely have the money to afford it but who cares. It feels like the world is our oyster. Photos from that trip still pluck a heartstring. It’s the best memory I have of our time together.
I know your next question. If she’s your ex-wife, weren’t there warnings signs?
Of course there were.
THE RED FLAGS
- The tramp stamp on her lower back. What a classic tell. I knew what it meant then, just like I know what it means now. I just didn’t care.
- The screaming fits when her desires cannot be fulfilled. On a couple occasions, I have to hold the phone away from my ear, the bellowing is so loud. My justification: It’s a phase. She’s seven years younger than me. She’ll grow out of it.
- The closet crammed full of designer shoes and designer clothing. On a part-time fifteen-dollar-an-hour wage.
- The Sex and the City ringtone on her phone. That damn song haunts me to this day.
- The way she walks a step ahead of me. She will not let me lead.
I knew these were red flags. I didn’t care. Here’s why.
- Her parents had a strong marriage. High school sweethearts, fun people, very loving.
- Her parents also liked me. A lot. Her dad gets drunk and falls off a roof into a pool the first night that I meet him. The second night I meet him, he tells me he loves me after I go around finishing other people’s cocktails in a tiki bar. Honestly, I loved that guy too. Everybody does. He is the life of the party, a larger than life character, an absolute force of nature. The type of guy that they will tell stories about for decades after he passes away. You know the type.
- I have total confidence in my ability to overcome relationship problems through the force of my own will.
- She’s smart. I assume I can reason with a smart person. (You know what they say about assumptions.)
I don’t remember how this happened in my head, but a year and a half of this rapturous passion goes by, without dimming, and I decide it’s time that we should get married. I search for and find a travel package – only $1000 for a winter trip for two to Vienna, Austria, plane and hotel included. She’d always wanted to go there.
I suggest the vacation. She gives an enthusiastic thumbs up. I purchase the package, then give her a card a day later. Inside I write: Do you know what’s going to happen in Vienna? As she reads it, I hold her eyes.
“What’s going to happen?” she says.
“Let’s go shopping this Saturday,” I reply.
Now she’s all excited. “For what?”
“You know for what,” I say.
Her eyes light up. She’s running around like a beautiful but overstimulated rat. That Saturday, with her at my side, I purchase the seven-thousand-dollar ring of her dreams, on credit. That was two months’ salary, more or less, at that time. Yes, I followed the classic advice for chumps, not knowing any better. (Today? It would be an eighty-dollar ring, or maybe just a kiss on the cheek.)
Interesting thing, though, was that I was the driver of the engagement and the marriage, not her. This is not typical. Usually men have to be dragged into a relationship. I guess it shows how certain I was that we were meant to be together.
Regardless, when we come back from Vienna with a pair of rings on our fingers, I have no idea of the absolute shitshow that was about to enter my life. And she is going to be the star.
Coming up in Part 2: How it all went bad.
*some identifying details have been changed.